November 22, 2019

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Doer's Decade: Looking back

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/8/2009 (3738 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/8/2009 (3738 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Ex-mayor Glen Murray, Lyle Bauer, Blue Bomber GM, and Premier Gary Doer worked out a funding restructing plan for the football club in 2000.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES

Ex-mayor Glen Murray, Lyle Bauer, Blue Bomber GM, and Premier Gary Doer worked out a funding restructing plan for the football club in 2000.

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Doer takes part in a Leaders Forum at the Asper Community Jewish Campus in May 2003 with Jon Gerrard (right) and Stuart Murray.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES

Doer takes part in a Leaders Forum at the Asper Community Jewish Campus in May 2003 with Jon Gerrard (right) and Stuart Murray.

GARY DOER often faced criticism by ardent left-wingers that his tenure as premier was marred by his cautious approach to governing.

But Doer's "steady-as-you-go" style underscored his accomplishments.

During Thursday's news conference to announce his pending resignation, Doer said he abandoned the old left-versus-right style of politics in favour of something new and better.

"We've tried to govern for all the people in this province," he said. "We tried to get away from the outdated jargon and go into a more modern way of working with the people of this province."

Doer listed his government's accomplishments, including a series of firsts by any Canadian province:

 

THE FIRST PROVINCE TO:

"ö Invest in a gamma knife (2003), a medical laser instrument that allows cancerous tumors to be removed from the brain without surgery.

"ö Provide dialysis service in a First Nations community (Norway House, 2000).

Brian Short, a union repre­sentative from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, leaves a meeting with Doer in March 2002. The premier recommended the union hold a vote to try to save the Motor Coach Industries bus plant.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES

Brian Short, a union repre­sentative from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, leaves a meeting with Doer in March 2002. The premier recommended the union hold a vote to try to save the Motor Coach Industries bus plant.

"ö Pass presumptive legislation for firefighters (2002) to expedite Workers Compensation coverage for cancers of the brain and kidney as well as non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and leukemia.

"ö Make it mandatory to report child pornography (2009).

"ö Set up a dedicated gang prosecution unit (2002).

"ö Introduce a program focused on those under the age of 12 years who break the law and don't fall under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (2004).

"ö Introduce a ban on phosphorous in dishwashing detergent and a ban on lawn fertilizer containing phosphorus (2007).

"ö Legislate its Kyoto target (2008).

Doer visits a Dawson City casino during Western Premiers conference in June 2002. A Can Can girl is sitting on B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell’s knee.

CHUCK STOODY / THE CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES

Doer visits a Dawson City casino during Western Premiers conference in June 2002. A Can Can girl is sitting on B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell’s knee.

"ö Eliminate the small business tax (now 1 per cent, to be eliminated in 2010).

 

OTHER ACCOMPLISHMENTS DOER CITED INCLUDED: $1.2 billion invested in education and post-secondary education capital projects; the creation of the University College of the North; and the establishment of four provincial parks.

 

And then there were several accomplishments he didn't mention:

 

Prime Minister Paul Martin shakes hands with Doer after signing an agreement on early learning and child care in April 2005.

MARIANNE HELM / THE CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES

Prime Minister Paul Martin shakes hands with Doer after signing an agreement on early learning and child care in April 2005.

EARLY SUCCESS — Doer entered the legislature in March 1986 and two years later he became party leader, beating out many veteran NDP MLAs.

ELECTION SUCCESS — The only NDP leader to score three successive majority governments and the first premier in Manitoba to do so since Duff Roblin in 1966.

IT'S THAT SMILE — In 1990 Chatelaine magazine picks Doer as one of the country's 12 sexiest men.

10 BALANCED BUDGETS — Since his first budget in 2000, Doer has been able to balance spending increases with tax concessions.

 

LOWLIGHTS

Doer talks to a patient sitting in the hallway at Concordia Hospital in November 1989.

DAVE JOHNSON / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES

Doer talks to a patient sitting in the hallway at Concordia Hospital in November 1989.

 

GARY DOER parlayed a perpetual grin and carefree hairstyle to three consecutive election victories and nothing that happened during the past 10 years could undermine that popularity. Doer, and the NDP, survived and prospered in the face of a series of calamities that could have toppled another political leader.

 

ELECTION LOSSES — Doer loses first three elections to Filmon Tories, 1988, 1990 and 1995 and spends 10 years as party leader in opposition.

HALLWAY MEDICINE — Doer wins power in 1999 election in part on a vow to end hallway medicine and despite annual increases in the health budget he's never able to shake the tag that he failed on this promise.

CROCUS — The Filmon Tories set up the labour-sponsored Crocus Investment Fund but it collapsed under Doer's watch — ceased trading in 2004 — and his government was blamed for ignoring financial red flags. There was constant pressure to appoint a public inquiry, but Doer refused to do so and refused to accept any responsibility for the fund's collapse.

CHILD AND FAMILY

SERVICES — Despite repeated assurances that the safety of children was the government's priority, a series of high-profile deaths of young Aboriginal children under care leaves a dark stain on the Doer years.

OLYWEST — It looked like a win-win for the Doer government — 1,100 jobs and investment for Winnipeg — when it endorsed the proposed $200-million hog processing plant in 2005 and remained a steadfast supporter until 2007, when the NDP suddenly reversed its position and abandoned support for the project.

HOGS — Any goodwill the Doer NDP had secured with the hog industry disappeared in the face of the public opposition to the Olywest plant and environmental concerns from a rapid increase in the number of hog operations. In late 2006, the Doer government alienated hog producers when it prohibited the expansion of existing hog operations and banned any new operations.

PHOTO RADAR TICKETS AND CONSTRUCTION ZONES — Public resentment shifted from city hall to the Legislature when the Justice department decided not to appeal a traffic court decision that threw out speeding tickets in construction zones because they were issued improperly. But then, thousands of people who had grudgingly paid their tickets demanded a refund, which the government refused to do.

ELECTION '99

NIGHTMARES — It took 10 years for this to surface: Allegations that Doer's breakthrough 1999 election victory was marred by financial irregularities. The NDP were forced to refund $76,000 in rebates it had improperly claimed. The opposition wanted to know why the NDP was never charged with breaking the law and the independence of Elections Manitoba was called into question.

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